In Memoriam – Olivier Giscard d’Estaing

The INSEAD family mourns the loss of First Dean and Founder

Dear Alumni,

I am deeply saddened to share news of the passing of Olivier Giscard d’Estaing, one of the INSEAD founders. His approach to business education truly laid the foundation for the INSEAD that we know today.

In this difficult moment, our thoughts are with the Giscard d’Estaing family. Together, we mourn the loss of a leader and innovator, a pioneer in management education and a dear member of our INSEAD family.

Olivier joined the INSEAD project when the school was still just an idea of Georges Doriot. It was while attending HBS that Olivier first met Doriot. In the summer of 1956, the two connected in Paris to discuss Doriot’s idea. At the time, Olivier was teaching at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques where he had established their first business course. As a firm believer in management education, he jumped at the chance to help make this new vision a reality.

As well as helping found the school, Olivier was appointed as Director of Studies shortly after it was established, making him the first Dean of INSEAD. He served in this role until 1963, when he was appointed as Director General of the school, a position he held until 1966.

Olivier was instrumental in almost every facet of turning the INSEAD vision into a reality – developing operational procedures and course outlines; finding and securing facilities; and recruiting top faculty talent and high-calibre students. During his spell as Director, he also planned the move of INSEAD from a rented wing of the Château de Fontainebleau to the purpose-built campus we still call home.

After stepping down as Director he continued to dedicate his time, energy and experience to this great project, serving as vice chairman of the board for 25 years, a member of the French Council and as the Honorary President of the INSEAD Foundation.

But INSEAD was just one of Olivier’s legacies. He authored six books and was widely published in academic and parliamentary journals. He was a member of the French Parliament from 1968 to 1973, the North Atlantic Parliament (1969-1973), the Conseil Economique et Social de France (1994-1999) and served as Mayor of Estaing for over ten years. An officer of the Legion of Honour, he was also a member of numerous associations and boards, including Generali, IBM, Johnson and the Société Internationale de Technologie.

Indeed, throughout his remarkable life and a career that spanned management education, industry and politics, he constantly demonstrated his willingness to support and serve others. France and INSEAD have both lost a dedicated servant who was a firm believer in the power of business to be a positive influence on society.

Today, we say goodbye to a great man and a dear friend of INSEAD. Rest assured his legacy lives on through this unique business school and the community that he helped to create and shape.

You may visit this site to learn more about Olivier’s life and post message of condolences.


Ilian Mihov 
Dean of INSEAD


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